Until you walk in her shoes… 

It’s an undercurrent, it bubbles away just below the surface of society. 

It rarely makes it’s way into coffee shop chat, actually it rarely makes it way into the darkest secret swap. 
This word is loaded.
Fewer words can draw out as much emotion in us.
Abortion. 
I am currently on my journalism ‘journey’. 

Cringe if you must.
Our remit is to always be looking for stories:
Angles, mostly. 
I came across a story last week: Ealing Borough council were to vote on granting an ‘exclusion zone’ otherwise known as, a Public Spaces Protection Order, around a Marie Stopes abortion clinic. 
A group, Sister Support, had launched a petition which gathered thousands of signatures. 
Crucially enough signatures to get the council to sit up and consider their wishes. 
These wishes were simple. 
Allow women seeking medical help the dignity and right to walk into the abortion clinic without being taunted by people chanting prayers outside the entrance.
Allegations of women being streamed on Facebook-live entering or leaving the clinic had been made. Being confronted by the protesters had left many patients of the clinic deeply upset. 
For 20 years. 
How many women, possibly wracked with confusion and despair, have had to walk past these protesters just to reach the treatment they are legally entitled too?
Come on Ealing. Make a stand. 
Shocked over the images of these ‘chanting elders’ I felt the need to investigate on a more local level. On the south coast we have a clinic in Brighton and Eastbourne run by BPAS. 
A charitable organisation. 
I contacted their spokesperson and asked how important this exclusion zone is, and why it is needed. 
The response was chilling. 
Brighton was by far the most targeted of the two clinics. Placards baring images of aborted foetuses, shouting indignities, attempts to humiliate and ‘call out’ any woman who dare to cross their path. 
Often the chanting of prayer and the shouting can be heard in the waiting rooms of these clinics. 
Women who are vulnerable. 
Women who are making one of the toughest decisions of their lives. 
Do they deserve this? 
Ealing council doesn’t think so. 
They ruled in favour of implementing the exclusion zone on Tuesday, October 10. 
A landmark decision that could, should, create a domino effect nationwide. 
Not wanting to be unbalanced I also contacted Abort 67. 
Abort 67 define themselves as being a ‘pro-life’ organisation who seek to educate women about abortion. 
I wasn’t sure how I would feel speaking to someone who organises ‘Public Education Displays’ as they are so-called. 
As a trainee Journalist and not yet a bonafide, experience-savvy Journo, I knew this would be a real test. 
One must remain neutral. 
I am merely reporting the facts. 
Don’t get emotionally involved. 
Their argument was surprisingly compelling. I listened while this passionate woman explained that her group see themselves as educators, and not protesters. 
Abort 67 are filling an education-void by showing images and sharing information: 
Abortion ‘The Untold Facts’. 
Not quite a blockbuster. 
Nonetheless it was fascinating listening to the other side of such an emotive argument. 
With such conviction. 
I asked what her thoughts were on the proposed exclusion zone around the Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing.
Citing ‘freedom of speech’ as one of her fundamental human rights in this country, she felt appalled that they may be silenced. 
      * * *

Abortion has been legal in this country since 1967. 
Fifty years later, one clinic can now ensure that their patients can arrive in peace.  
Free of judgement.
A fundamental human right?

Best of the Rest feat. Mummy Rules

This weeks #BestoftheRest features a very special lady. Tilly and I met at a bloggers shindig last summer. I was a total loner and had no one to talk to until Tilly saved me and introduced me to her gorgeous Bloggy friends. My Lunch-for-1 fears vanished! Besides saving lost souls, it turns out that Tilly writes a fantastic blog: Mummy Rules . Go and check it out, there are a whole lot of funnies in there.

I’m so touched that Tilly has let me feature the first post she ever wrote. It’s full of feels, it’s funny and so bloody true- every line! I still refer to my children as Aliens. I don’t think that feeling is exclusive to new Mumas…

mummy-rules

Landing on another planet

Imagine walking through a door and immediately finding yourself on another planet. With an alien species, different customs, a whole new language. This is exactly how I felt about becoming a mother.

1. Naive newbie

The experience didn’t occur after I gave birth; or a few weeks after: whilst feeding bleary eyed in front of Homes Under the Hammer; or even at my first mum and baby group (an alien experience for any first timer). It began whilst waiting for my first antenatal appointment at our local children’s centre.

As I sat there in my tidy office clothes and heeled shoes, with my coat pulled neatly around me, I was suddenly overcome with a huge surge of emotion. This is happening. You are going to have a child. Sat on a waiting room chair, I studied the photos on the walls: documenting toddlers painting and babies lying on their tummies, next to laughing mums. I couldn’t identify with them yet. A kind worker at the centre passed by and introduced herself; she sat next to me and asked how I was and I was shocked by the wobble in my voice: “err a bit emotional actually, probably the hormones, hahaha!” The fact is, the reality had hit me that I was entering this new world without any experience or anyone else doing it with me. I was starting a new job in a strange culture: parenting.

2. Smug & silly 

Rather than explore these feelings, I decided to ignore them and focus on the things that made me feel excited.  I followed the babycentre updates and suggestions: “get a stylish new haircut”, “embrace the nesting instinct” “plan a baby moon”…I could relate to all of these! Soon I was ticking through these wonderful boxes on my journey through pregnancy: trips to the hairdresser, online shopping for sweet nursery bits and booking a romantic weekend in Cornwall. I even dressed as chic as maternity clothes allowed me to. “Pregnancy suits you!” people said; and as I rubbed my belly and imagined pushing my newborn around in yummy mummy atire, I felt happy and excited. I couldn’t wait for the birth when after a few intense period pains my baby would be presented to me in Cath Kidson pyjamas, perhaps on a fluffy white cloud…and I would be surrounded by adoring woodland baby animals and blue birds fluttering above, like in Disney’s Snow White. Then days would follow of cuddles, sling wearing and picnics in the sun…

3. When in doubt, refer to ’90s Japanese toys…

I have always had quite a vivid imagination and on this occasion I don’t think it served me very well.

When the baby appeared after what seemed like half my life gone, my partner declared that we had a boy: this was very confusing, because she was in fact female. He must have been as delirious as I. Then I realised she didn’t even look like us, she just looked like an alien. Not surprising if you have been stuck down a narrow tunnel for hours and pulled out through a key hole: yet straight away we were being hit by the unexpected…

“…the babycentre update for Day 1 doesn’t say this! It just says something about black poo”.

Of course time went on and after a few hours of being out of the womb, the familiar features of this sweet little soul did become apparent.

After my partner had left the hospital, I fell asleep for hours…and so did the baby, miraculously. When I awoke I panicked – I shouldn’t have slept that long! Straight away this situation reminded me of when my brother had bought a Tamogotchi as a child and I had looked after it overnight: by the morning it was covered in poo and skull symbols from my neglect. As I peered into the crib, I was relieved to see baby was still alive and not covered in poo. Then it struck me: just like a Tamagotchi, it would need a feed. The feeding button was located on me. Cautiously I picked my baby out of the cot, lifted up my top and kind of put her head near my boobs. I didn’t really want to do this, it felt weird. I was holding an unfamiliar and unpredictable creature to my bare breasts waiting for it to start drinking from them. A clamping feeling followed and after I had stopped cringing at the weird sensation, I watched with wide eyed amazement as the baby fed from me.

4. Beware the Breastfeeding Mafia

Over the next few days and weeks, I experienced more oddities on this planet. The baby didn’t sleep after that first night, in fact I don’t know how she found the energy to cry so loudly because she slept so little.

I was envious of people who went to bed or did any normal everyday activity: making a cup of tea, showering, chatting on the phone, going to work, watching TV. My vivid imagination had been sacked: I couldn’t imagine doing these daily things ever again.

Breastfeeding was excruciating. Health visitors seem younger than the legal age and sat on the floor looking up at me, instead of on the sofa or a chair like human beings do. They suggested breastfeeding groups with unappealing names such as “Latch on” and “Bosom Buddies”, but always seemed to turn up at my house on the days these groups ran. One day I clicked on websites to research formula. Big Brother was watching me, monitoring the newest inhabitant of the parenting planet. A pop up box appeared on my screen saying that “breast is best” and implying that if I proceed any further with my research then I would be committing a crime. I snapped the lap top shut, nervously glancing out the window at whoever was looking in on me.

NO ONE TOLD ME IT WOULD BE LIKE THIS.

Antenatal classes talked about the sweet shop of options of painkillers we could choose in labour. They taught us how to attach a dolly to a knitted woollen boob. They said to make the most of visitors. But… I wasn’t given my chosen pain relief; the baby wasn’t a dolly and my boob wasn’t knitted, it was packed with flesh and nerves endings and attached to me. Every time visitors turned up, baby would be asleep and I wanted to be too. Mum and baby groups were attended: I chose a baby massage class. It wasn’t relaxing for either of us, although I did make a lovely mummy friend that day.

 5. And this time it will be different

Not because any of the above will not happen, but because I will not have the crazy expectations that I did, having absorbed every bit of media and information given to me and taken it as the gospel; all I need to know. I am now a native of this planet. I know the secret to survival. To quote Sylvia Plath: “if you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed”. This includes yourself and your baby and everything that happens from that first antenatal visit.

6. Becoming a real parent

I have a pair of Cath Kidson style pyjamas ready for new baby*, but I have recently swapped them in the hospital bag for the little white outfit worn by my first; complete with milk stain around the neckline. It is more realistic and means so much more to me.

*I am 36 weeks pregnant with baby number 2 at the time of writing.

Further Notes:

  • I still love the babycentre website; it is genuinely useful. The pregnancy app just makes me laugh a lot more than it used to. 
  • Breast or bottle, who cares, whichever one works for you and your baby’s happiness. 
  • Whatever planet you are on, your body is yours.
  • It’s your baby. Scary thought I know!

 

Thank you so much for sharing this beautifully honest piece with #BestoftheRest this week gorgeous Tilly xx

 

Cash splashing baby must-not-haves

There is SO much baby crap out there, all gleaming and shiny just waiting for unsuspecting adoring (petrified) new parents to splash their cash on. 

Sharing is caring, and with this in mind I thought I’d divulge our top 5 parenting purchase nightmares with you… It’s not pretty.

1)A rocking crib.


What a seriously bonkers invention.

This at No.1 because it is without doubt the most rookie of all the bad purchases we made as parents in-waiting. The helpful teen at ‘Babies R us’ swore blind a rocking crib was a new born essential (I’m sure she knew best). Jolly good; we’ll have one of those then.

The first time I attempted to put the baby-that-did-not-sleep into the rocking crib proved that this ‘essential’ was in fact the polar opposite.

Into the crib she went milk-drunk. I looked just like a member of bomb squad edging nearer and nearer to the crib with the armed device, armed with this sleeping new born. One. False. Move… of course the rocking crib did just that– it bloody rocked all over the place. Bam and that was it: baby rave time, mummy cry time.

We tried it a few more times before we chopped it up and used it to re-board our fireplace


2) Gro-Clock


Desperate times call for desperate measures. And we were just that. Our 2 year old had never slept through the night, and never in her own bed. We were trying everything and anything to try and achieve just one night’s sleep before baby No.2 made her appearance.

Make way for The Gro-Clock. Promising that toddlers will obey its creepy sun face.

The Gro clock should come with a warning that you will only be able to figure out how to program the bloody thing if you have the IQ of a frigging genius. I don’t.

It is not simple to use. Even less simple if you are heavily pregnant, sleep deprived and quite literally a Muma on the Edge. When we eventually did get it working our daughter LAUGHED at it. We basically spent £25 on a night light.

Fu*k you Gro clock.

 3) Skirts n headbands: Baby Accessory Gate


Ok let’s get this straight-

Skirts: They ride up. They look awkward. They show off the nappy to its optimum. And it looks SO uncomfortable.

Headbands: I tried, I really did; to dress up my baby’s wispy bald head. I was always paranoid the gypsy-style headbands would slip down and we’d have a horrific ‘strangled’ situation on our hands. More often than not she would rip it off her head and chuck it overboard. (She clearly has more taste than I do!)

Why did I bother?!

Baby No.2 escaped the wannabe Doll phase, onesies forever.

 

4) Holiday with a baby


(Ok this isn’t strictly an ‘item’ but I just felt I couldn’t leave it out of this Rookie list.)

Just why?! If it isn’t hard enough to look after a sub-1 human at home with the entire contents of Mothercare at your fingertips, how do we convince ourselves that a holiday will ever be just that?!

We were so lucky to go away with my parents and sisters when Darcie was 3 months old. A ratio of 7:1 is the ONLY way I would ever recommend a holiday with a baby.

The heat was too hot for her, the cot was too netted for her, the pool was too cold for her, the air was too airy for her, she wouldn’t sleep OR she only wanted to sleep.

How is that a holiday?! That’s just normal life thrown in with a touch of nightmare.

 5) The baby sling


It was awkward. I swore. The baby cried. We gave up: Back to ebay it went.

I have seen serene ‘Baby Carriers’ in the real so it must be possible to front tie, back tie, strap up and pop the bambino in. I however found it impossible: frustrating and confusing in equal measure, and frankly a complete and utter bloody mystery.

I tried again and again to get to grips with Slinging. I tried different brands with ties, & knots to clips & Velcro. I ended up looking like id been subjected to Mummification; Wrapped up in endless cloth with a screaming baby hanging out of the front of me.Bugaboo I salute you.

So come on- spill the beans on your useless baby impulse buys…!!???? 

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Jennifer, you legend.

At last: She has spoken.

Jennifer. Jen. Rachel has come right out and said what has been on the tip of the tongues of so many successful woman in the spotlight who just so happen to be outright awesome without *whispers* Being a Mother. Shock horror.

I love Jen’s article, it’s honest, thought provoking and kicks some serious female butt. Read it in full here.

Here are my highlights:

“…This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman’s value based on her marital and maternal status…Here’s where I come out on this topic: we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child…We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own “happily ever after” for ourselves.”

It’s a crying shame that Theresa May couldn’t produce a similar response to Andrea Leasom’s ghastly attempt to get the edge over her opponent this weekend, based on her reproduction ‘achievements’.

I seem to remember a time right after school, probably through to my mid-20’s when a pregnancy was announced it was an ‘OH MY GOD THEY’RE PREGNANT’ moment. We seemed too young to have babies and it was almost a scandal that you would dare to reproduce. I’m now the other side of that (weeps), and this other side is worse. Much worse. Because this other side questions why a woman may not have borne a crying sh*tting machine yet.

Why is this? Why do we as a society, pivot a female’s success around the presence of a child? I feel lucky, not successful, to have 2 children. I certainly wouldn’t measure my success or suitability for a job based on the fact that I have children.

I wonder if Jenifer Aniston’s words will actually hit home to the Paparazzi and magazine bosses? (who might actually be fully grown women without children! IMAGINE!).

 Sadly I think her statement will fall on deaf ears. Inevitably, lining the newsagent’s shelves will continue be glossy post-lunch stomachs belonging to the A-Z listers, complete with speculation over the presence of a bambino within.

All the while we keep buying the Mags or sharing the articles and spreading the hype, they will keep dishing it.

It’s pretty sad when you think about it.

It’s a big day for Women today, a great day. Our 2nd female Prime Minister EVER will take up the reins and is set to be appointing top cabinet roles to some fabulous women. I know their gender is neither here nor there as long as they are the right people for the jobs, but I can’t help doing a little fist pump for Girl Power today.

Mummuddlingthrough

Stay-At-Home-Muma or Working Muma? My choice…

As sensitive a subject as Breast verses Bottle; I’m half wincing even beginning this blogpost. The time old argument, or rather ‘discussion point’ of Working Muma V’s Stay at Home Muma seems to rage on. Article after article is written on the subject, all contradicting the last, all claiming to be the latest research and written either by Earth Mother herself wrapped in her tie dye gently rocking back and forth on a rush matt with a toddler feeding from her, or City slicker Muma: louboutins- check!

These two extremes don’t really cater for The Lidl Muma – and by that, I mean me! What’s right for the Muma that’s been educated reasonably well?

I was fortunate enough to go to a very academic school, we were all aboard the conveyor belt of GCSE’S, AS levels, A levels, and then on to University as a standard. Utter scandal ensued should you have deviated from this, the very thought of ‘vocational course’ was placed next to shelf stacker as an option. From university I went on to work in recruitment mostly: I’m basically very gobby which helps in a sales environment!

I remember the day I finished work and begun my journey in to MatLeave like it was yesterday: An over indulgent lunch with my colleagues, well friends actually; I spent 50 hours a week with these people! Anyway I bid them all adios with armfuls of Pink goodies, vowing to return in a years time…

However, I just couldn’t tear myself away from my Darcie shaped bundle. I even went to a keeping in touch day, shame it was a financial planning meeting that had me wishing I could bolt out of the door. My brain felt like mush, did I get the train through to Paris because I’m clearly not speaking the same language anymore. That evening I broke the news to The Hubster that I just couldn’t go back to work and asked if we could financially survive.

If I’m totally honest I haven’t looked back since I waddled out of the office door ready to embrace Mumahood. Don’t get me wrong, there have been been moments where I have thought how lovely it would be to have a lunch break, especially when I have been on an involuntary starvation day due to a colicy baby, or a loo break sometimes, ALONE. And yes I have yearned to have a quick browse around the shops on late-night Thursdays after work on more than one occasion. But, and here’s the big but, my bottom line and my raison d’etre: I don’t want to miss out!

I don’t want to be the one to miss the first step, or first word – which would have been nice to be Muma just once: Dada got that, twice. It’s the more mundane everyday stuff that makes you the constant: toddler tripped up and it was me that comforted her, toddler cuts another tooth and needs more cuddles, toddler whacks victim for custard cream at playgroup, – Hell, Toddler has morphed into ToddlerMonster and chucks ‘treasure’ down the loo! I want to be the observer, the comforter, the disciplinarian, and not miss a beat.

However, in my quest to Nurture have I thrown away a great education and a career to boot? Is it realistically possible for me to return to work and still not miss a single thing? Well, of course not because it’s physically impossible to be in two places at once. It doesn’t seem fair that nature has given women a heart wrenching choice to make: follow your career, aspirations and dreams that you may have worked long and hard to build, before children. Or park it. Can a happy medium be reached or do you just end up not achieving either terribly well?

The responsibility I feel as a Stay At Home Muma to show my girls that women are invaluable to the work place is huge, I’m not leading by example here at all. I feel I must try to convince them that Muma is more than just a cleaner / cook / driver / occasional fair weather gardener. I don’t want them assuming that just because Muma doesn’t work I don’t have a brain and can’t answer their billions of critical questions – I can work Wikipedia just as well as the next Muma thanks. So with this in mind I’m now an upstanding member of the Nursery PTA and a wannabe Blogger, the fact that Darcie has begun referring to me as Muma On The Edge is frankly frightening.

This is a topic really close to my heart; I do strongly believe that every Muma strives to do the very best they can for their babies, its nature’s way. There is no perfect way to bring up our babies, just your way. And my god I hope I don’t fuck this up…